Princess Beatrice is following in the footsteps of other famous royal brides Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and her sister Princess Eugenie, by exhibiting her wedding dress to the public. It will go on public display at Windsor Castle from 24 September to 22 November 2020, and you can buy tickets to see it as part of the castle visit.
The Princess of York made headlines by unexpectedly choosing a vintage gown rather than a bespoke one, to wed her husband in an intimate, un-televised ceremony due to the ongoing global pandemic.
Her gown was originally designed for the Queen by royal couturier Sir Norman Hartnell, and she wore it a few times, including a State dinner at the British Embassy in Rome during a State Visit in 1961, the London premiere of Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 and for the State Opening of Parliament in 1966.
Notes for the exhibition explain that ‘the design of the dress is in keeping with Her Majesty’s predominant style of State evening wear in the 1960s – a full-skirted silhouette, often executed in shades of ivory to provide a perfect foil for rich embroideries and the brightly coloured broad ribands of orders of insignia.’
Princess Eugenie made a last minute request to the Queen to borrow it, which she of course accepted. The gown was then altered to make it more modern and to the Princess’ taste.
The notes explain that ‘Sir Norman Hartnell’s original design was altered for Princess Beatrice under the direction of Miss Angela Kelly, Personal Advisor, Dresser and Curator to The Queen, and the British fashion designer Mr Stewart Parvin. The full-skirted silhouette was softened to give a more contemporary, simplified shape, and the underskirt and petticoats were recreated and bound with silk tulle. Short sleeves of triple organza were added to the straps and embroidered with vintage diamantés to match the original Hartnell embroidery design. Each alteration made to the dress is reversible.’
The display at Windsor Castle will also include Beatrice’s recycled Valentino wedding shoes, as well as a replica of her wedding bouquet, which was designed by Patrice Van Helden, co-owner of RVH Floral Design, and contained trailing jasmine, pale pink and cream sweet peas, Royal Porcelina spray roses, pink O’Hara roses, pink ‘wax flower’ and baby pink astilbe, as well as sprigs of myrtle in keeping with royal tradition.